How Successful People Stay Calm by Dr. Travis Bradberry at LinkedIn on 5 August 2014.

Being a leader can be stressful at times – what can you do about it?  Some stress is good – it can motivate us to perform.  If the stress is too great, or it is there for too long of a period, your performance will start to suffer, and so will your ability to lead others.  The author provides several strategies that successful people use to control stress:

  1. The appreciate what they have (helps puts things into context)
  2. They avoid asking “What if?” (fewer aspects to worry about)
  3. They stay positive (there must be something good – can you focus on that?)
  4. They disconnect (don’t look at that Blackberry when you are doing other things such as spending time with family or relaxing)
  5. They limit their caffeine intake (no triple espresso for them!)
  6. They sleep (recharge that mental battery)
  7. They squash negative self-talk (be careful of the words you choose – the ones that you use to communicate with others but also the ones you use to communicate to yourself)
  8. They reframe their perspective (switch from a negative mindset towards finding the positive of the situation)
  9. They breathe (focussing on your breathing can be a mini meditation system, put it relaxes your body, helping to release some of that stress)
  10. They use their support system (very few people can ‘go at it’ alone, and even then it will not last for a long time.  Just talking about the issue with someone can help you feel better, plus you may get a new perspective on the solution)

Okay – many of these I fully agree with, but others not so much.

#2 – I can see why this made the list, but I would save that as a last resort.  Personally, if I can think ahead to lots of potential outcomes, I am actually better prepared to take action when the results come in.  For me, the value of a plan comes not from the plan itself, but rather the thought process that went into it.  Think back to your exam days – were you more worried when you studied lots, or studied little?

#3 – I consider this a really weak cousin of the much better #8 – perhaps it was used to make an even 10.

#5 – Not my coffee!!!  In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake (a stressful situation), coffee was my fuel as I sought to think about all the “what-ifs” in generating a new set of plans to deal with the change in the security situation.  Having said that, I admit that I really had to start cutting back after the first month because the cumulative effect of at least 10 cups of coffee per day (I wish I was exaggerating) was starting to take its toll…  These days, I limit myself to a more reasonable 2-3 cups.

#11 – The article didn’t have one, but it should have.  EXERCISE!!!  Not only does it make you feel better (really – the endorphins are amazing), but there have been many times that the answer to a stressful problem suddenly materializes.

At the end of the day, a stressed out leader benefits no one.  Do your team (and yourself) a favour and try at least one of these techniques the next time you feel stressed.

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